Sheffield Wednesday need to offload strikers this January - is now the perfect time to blow Jordan Rhodes off the wage bill?
Big fees, big wages, the club’s inability to move them on at the right time; the stockpiling of strikers at Sheffield Wednesday has been one of many contributing factors to the financial whirlpool that necessitated the controversial sale of Hillsborough stadium.
Because, of course, goalscorers are expensive. They’re the men that fire you to the promised land, the ones that make the difference in the tight moments that make the difference in season-defining moments.
A cursory glance at the sides that have built promotion campaigns in recent seasons shows each side boasted at least one prolific front man and in their pursuit of the golden paving stones of Premier League football, Wednesday have paid the price.
To start the season with Steven Fletcher, Jordan Rhodes, Atdhe Nuhiu, Sam Winnall, Fernando Forestieri and Lucas Joao on the training ground is a dream for players of Football Manager, but in cold outdoor of real life it smacks of mismanagement in the extreme.
Joao was of course moved on to Reading for a fee understood to be one of the highest ever received by the club, but it was in the rejection of one bid that hindsight burns a hole into the Owls’ business acumen; that of Norwich’s free transfer bid for man-of-the-moment Jordan Rhodes.
It was dismissed out of hand and scoffed at by club and supporters alike. A Wednesday source said the bid showed ‘a lack of respect’. But as the months have gone by, it’s looked more and more appealing.
Much has been written about Rhodes’ potential offering to Wednesday of course and after bagging one of the classiest hat-tricks you are ever likely to see in the Championship at Nottingham Forest last weekend, his stock has rarely been higher since his £8m move from Middlesbrough two years ago.
In all the drama of the club’s ongoing battle with the EFL over the sale of Hillsborough it has been perhaps ‘glossed over’ that the club will have to make savings in the next year in order to fall in-line with FFP rulings going forward.
FFP allow losses of no more than £39m every three years, meaning that taking into account the performances of 2016/17 and 2017/18, the club will have to post accounts with losses less than £20m in 2018/19 to avoid breaching those regulations next time out.
It remains to be seen where we are in 2019/20 of course, but what we do know is that you can’t sell Hillsborough for a profit of £38m again. The belt, you feel, will have to be tightened a touch somewhere.
For now that first-half treble at Forest may have shushed one half of the seemingly eternal Rhodes debate – whether the £40,000-a-week man is worth persevering with – but if Wednesday were to field a similar bid in January, consideration would surely be given.
Where that bid would come from is another question altogether of course. A poll on Norwich City website ‘Pink Un’ this week saw 78% of supporters vote to bring Rhodes back to the club in January. The Canaries need an injection of goals to improve their odds of Premier League survival and boss Daniel Farke is a big fan. Who knows?
The outpouring of goodwill from players, supporters and management at Sheffield Wednesday towards Rhodes – one of the nicest footballers you are ever likely to meet – has been there for all to see. And if Saturday proves to be the springboard he needed to kickstart a goal-laden partnership with the free-scoring Steven Fletcher over the next few weeks, then hold onto him they might.
But nothing puts you in the shop window like a first-half hat-trick. There might never be a better time to cut ties with Jordan Rhodes.